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In honour of World Pilots' Day, we sat down with one of our Technical Pilots, Captain Michael, to learn about his journey and what he loves about being a Pilot.
“Growing up in an aviation family I was indoctrinated into the culture at the age of four. My father was a pilot (not commercially at the time) and my mother worked for Transport Canada which was later to become NavCanada.
I grew up in General Aviation (GA) which fueled may passion for the industry. I joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets at 12 years old and spent six years with the program where I was awarded scholarships to obtain my Glider and Private Pilot Licenses at ages 16 and 17 respectively.
After high school I graduated from the Utah Valley University with a B.Sc. in Aeronautical Sciences.
Becoming employed as a pilot in the industry in 2002 was quite difficult in a post 9/11 world and probably the most difficult challenge. I spent three years as a flight instructor building ‘pilot in command’ time to build a better resume eventually heading to the Canadian north where I flew charter and medevac operations for various companies on several aircraft types.
In the summer of 2011, I joined WestJet as a first officer. Since then, I have flown over 9000 hours on the 737NG and MAX, eventually becoming a Captain and Standards Pilot in Flight Technical & Operations.
2020 has obviously been a difficult year for the industry with lots of movement both laterally and backwards for many occupations within. I found myself at Swoop in October as a result of the myriad of position bids where I continue a role as a Technical Pilot.
I still have a passion for general aviation. I’ve owned a personal airplane for the last five years and my family used to fly to various locations to visit family and for leisure and I have also volunteered as President for the Airdrie Flying Club. Your local flying club is a great place to hear stories and make connections!
Having flown roughly 14,000 hours thus far I can say that flying brings a sense of freedom unlike any other. The ability to travel above our beautiful country and beyond is second to none. It’s a rewarding career that has given me the opportunity to travel, meet people, and go places I otherwise wouldn’t have. A layover in a sun destination is a nice added bonus.
Whether you do it privately or professionally, flying is great experience I would recommend to anyone. There are multiple career paths to achieving one’s goals. Not one is the correct way. The general public typically thinks as airlines as the job of a Commercial Pilot. Medevac, Flight Instruction, Float Flying, Crop Dusting, Fire Fighting, Corporate Aviation and Ferry Pilots are just some of the many variations that may meet your fancy.
“When I think of safety, what first comes to mind is one word. TRAINING. In addition to multiple recurrent courses, twice a year we go through rigorous simulator training covering various emergencies from engine failures on take-off to fires and pressurization issues. If it’s got a light, we have a checklist. While experience definitely helps with making decisions, it’s the training we fall back on if the situation should ever arise. Train the way you fly, fly the way you train!”